Brain Rules for Baby

by John Medina

Recommended by ONCDC


An interesting read for those curious about how to support children at home and school. “Brain Rules for Baby” by John Medina shares some current research into child development and brain development. The book is entertaining and well written though the research is somewhat selected to represent the authors own bias. We wouldn’t put this on the top of your to-read list but it’s a worthy read if you have a copy and a little extra time.

First on the list for those interested in the current brain science we would recommend The Philosophical Baby by Alison Gopnik, Anything by Daniel Siegel (The Whole Brain Child, The YES Brain, and No-Drama Discipline), or NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Key Points:

  • Pregnancy section is great, quick way to get all the research, like reading five books in one.
  • Happiness is about relationships.


Particularly in the moral baby section Medina offers a different interpretation of the research than many others would offer. Medina advocates for punishment but there is no research that indicates that punishment is necessary or helpful in parenting. While we agree that children who live in homes with clear rules and high expectations do best there is no indication that parents must demand compliance with the rules through the use of punishment. The research instead indicates that parenting models that support children to meet expectations with coaching, choices, and problem solving when children struggle lead to the greatest success.